Thanks to last-minute grant funding, the brush pick up program in the communities of Pine and Strawberry will continue.
The program was at risk of shutting down or being cut after the P-S Fire Department did not receive a federal grant.
Luckily, the P-S Fuel Reduction group was approved for the grant and should receive $273,000, said P-S Fire Chief David Staub.
The announcement was made at a special board meeting on July 18. Staub and Fuel Reduction officials are scheduled to meet to determine how the program will continue and what changes will occur, but so far, the program is slated to stay.
In the past, P-S Fire received around $250,000 to $275,000 a year to pick up brush from residents’ homes. The current grant is funded and approved through Sept. 30.
Every year the fire department re-applies for the funding, which is given to high-risk wildfire communities. Last summer, they applied for the grant, which is administered by the state of Arizona, but found out in June their request had been denied.
The Fuel Reduction group will likely maintain the program, utilizing the fire department’s staff for brush removal, Staub said.
Currently, the fire department employees three people full time for the program. Two work in the field picking up brush with a program manager in the office.
In the last seven months, the crew has gotten around to every home needing pick up, Staub said.
The program is free for residents and simple to use. The crew picks up any branches and bags of vegetation stacked in front of homes every four weeks or so and delivers it to a nearby brush pit.
For more information, call (928) 476-4272 or visit www.pine-strawberryfire.com.